Hemingford Grey shown within Cambridgeshire
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
It is situated on the southern bank of the River Great Ouse in the county of Cambridgeshire, with the northern bank occupied by the flood meadow. Until 1965 it was in Huntingdonshire and between 1965 and 1974 it was in the short-lived county of Huntingdon and Peterborough. It adjoins Hemingford Abbots to the west and St Ives on the north of the river and the A14 trunk road passes through the parish about a mile south of the main settlement.
In Anglo-Saxon times the neighbouring villages of Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots were a single estate. In the ninth century they were split into two. In 1066 "Little Hemingford", as it was known, was acquired by nearby Ramsey Abbey. In around 1140 Payn of Hemingford began the construction of Hemingford Manor, one of the oldest inhabited buildings in England, as well as the present church. The manor was then owned by the Turberville family who for a while gave their name to the village.
In 1276 the village was given its present name by the de Grey family. The manor remained in the possession of the Greys until seized by Henry VII in the fifteenth century after George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent was unable to settle his debts. The manor was subsequently leased to a number of people, including the great-grandfather of Oliver Cromwell.
Listed as Emingeforde in the Domesday Book, the name Hemingford means "the ford of the people of Hemma or Hemmi", where Hemma is believed to be the name of a Saxon chief. The village was at different times known as East Hemingeford (11th century), Hamicheford (12th), Hemmingeforde Turbervill (13th-14th), Hemmingeforde Parva (13th-14th) and Hemingford Priors (14th-15th).
St James' Church
With no church listed in the Domesday Book, it is believed the church was first built in the first half of the twelfth century by Payn of Hemingford, a tenant of Ramsey Abbey, and was enlarged over the following centuries. Parts of the medieval church still survive in the south aisle and nave.
The spire collapsed during a hurricane in 1741 and instead of being rebuilt was replaced with eight ball finials at its base. The church is still in active use with up to three services on a Sunday and many more in the week. The church undertook the second phase of a restoration project in 2013 and was closed from March till September. The main part of this work was to replace plasterwork which has been significantly damaged over the years by damp and modern repair and to restore the arcades stonework.
The centre of the village has an attractive mixture of buildings including thatched timber-framed cottages and the church with its unique truncated spire. Along the riverside path is the Norman Manor House 'The Manor', claimed to be the oldest inhabited house in the United Kingdom, where Lucy Boston the children's writer lived and which is open to the public by prior arrangement.
The village is home to a village shop, a primary school, and The Cock public house. The post office closed in 2003, but there is a post office run from St James' Parish Centre. The 19th century Reading Room is still used for community meetings.
Hemingford Grey is a vibrant community with many and varied voluntary organisations providing recreation, education and sporting facilities for residents. Among note is the annual Hemingfords' Regatta, held annually with the adjoining village of Hemingford Abbots since 1901 and believed to be among the oldest village regattas in the country.
Hemingford Grey grew considerably in the 19th century especially in the area of the London Road which is about a mile east of the village centre and nearer to St Ives. Here there has been some industrial development, a petrol station and the St Ives Motel. The village continued to grow between the wars when simple and attractive bungalows with good- sized gardens were built followed, in more recent years, by several small estate developments.
Farming is still the main land-use with large arable fields to the south and meadows on the low ground near the river. There is limited employment in the village but in recent years there has been a considerable increase in the number of people working from home. This has led to many services being available in the village.
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